Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are on survival mode right now, especially those located in COVID-19 hot spots. Because of the enforced community quarantine to mitigate the spread of the virus, customers are forced to stay home while employees find difficulty in finding transportation. Sales have plunged or reduced to a trickle.

For Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI), while the challenges continue, there is no better time to prepare for business recovery than now.

BPI Business Banking Head Eric Luchangco said the bank has taken steps to equip SMEs with the services and tools they will need for a more digitally enhanced way of doing business.

“In the spirit of bayanihan, we have rolled out special programs to help our SME clients sustain their operations during these challenging times,” he said.

Digital banking

The e-commerce marketplace has become the new battleground for businesses as Filipinos spend more time on online shopping due to quarantine restrictions.

BPI is enabling traditional SMEs adapt to the shifting consumer behavior by encouraging the use of digital payment. Through BPI Online and the BPI Mobile app, sole proprietors can conveniently access electronic statements, transfer funds, pay bills, and even pay cash through Cebuana and Palawan Express by just using their devices anytime, anywhere.

“We make sure that we offer value-added service to our clients—well-thought solutions that they need during these challenging times,” said Eric Luchangco, BPI Business Banking Head.

SME clients may also leverage the digital opportunity to manage their cash and payments through BPI Bizlink. Bizlink enables business clients to download bank statements, transfer funds between accounts, pay utility bills, pay government services, and make check disbursements using their phones—reducing any potential risk on cash handling.

Just as in the early part of the quarantine, BPI has continued to ensure the availability of its 3,000 ATMs and CAMs (cash accept machines) in major locations nationwide.

Innovative webinars

BPI also launched BizTalk Online, a free webinar series, designed to help SMEs adjust to the demands of the changing business environment.

BizTalk Online highlights economic and industry analysis from BPI’s own in-house economists and subject matter experts. They also demonstrate the benefits and various ways of using technology in boosting efficiency as well as the best practices that can enhance business operations.

“We make sure that we offer value-added service to our clients—well-thought solutions that they need during these challenging times,” said Mr. Luchangco.

BPI has partnered with bancassurance subsidiary, BPI-Philam, to provide free COVID-19 life insurance coverage worth P200,000 for its clients and their employees for 90 days.

BPI is also offering interest rate discounts on certain pre-selected loans for some of our smallest and most vulnerable business clients from July to December 2020. Earlier, BPI extended loan payment deferrals of qualified clients for 90 days.

“These are all part of our commitment to the Filipino people, our commitment to the nation’s future. We continue to listen to our clients so we can innovate and adapt to this pandemic or to any situation we may find ourselves in,” Luchangco said.